Gun bill passes House of Delegates, 78-61

ANNAPOLIS - A bill that would force you to submit fingerprints to buy a handgun -- and limit magazines to 10 bullets -- passed in the House of Delegates, and now appears to be headed to the Governor's desk.

Opponents say that bill not only violates their Second Amendment rights, they believe it won't do anything to cut down on gun violence in Maryland.

Governor O'Malley proposed the bill in response to December's mass shooting at Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut.

But opponents in Maryland pointed out the vast majority of gun violence here, happens with handguns.

And in any case, they say:  "The problem in Baltimore City are not firearms, it's the people that are holding them in their hands.  We don't have these murder rates in the rest of our state," said Del. Michael McDermott, a Republican from the Eastern Shore.

Opponents knew they didn't have the votes to block the bill; they resorted to warning majority Democrats of what might be coming next.

"I'll tell you what you won't ignore- you won't ignore the tens of thousands of people when they're marching in the streets here, and they're saying that what has happened is wrong," said Del. Michael Smigiel, a Republican from Cecil County.

In the end the bill did pass by a margin of 78 to 61.  Supporters say it could make it more difficult for criminals to obtain handguns.

"We're not naive in thinking it's going to cut down on all the violence and everything like that, but it's a step in the right direction in terms of trying to compact the straw purchases and the illegal guns," said Del. Keiffer Mitchell, a Democrat from Baltimore City.

House Speaker Michael Busch said last year's shooting at Perry Hall High School would have been worse if 15-year-old gunman Robert Gladden had an assault weapon; he only managed to get off two shots with a shotgun.

"You have to picture Perry Hall where the young man took a shotgun into the cafeteria and he used it, you can imagine what it would have been like if he took a semi-automatic weapon into that cafeteria," he said.

During the debate over the bill hundreds of gun rights supporters came to Annapolis to speak out against it.  Republicans say there's only one thing for them to do now.

"Clearly they need to look to the 2014 elections, that's where they're going to be able to hold the elected officials accountable for the actions that they have taken today," said House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

The House did make some changes to the bill; but its major proposals – the fingerprinting requirement for handgun purchases and the 10-round limit on magazine sizes – remain in effect.

Differences with the Senate version will have to be worked out before the session ends on Monday night.

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